I have had In the Woods by Tana French on loan from the library since last November – fortunately I was able to keep renewing it, until I got round to reading it. It’s Tana French’s debut novel first published in 2007.
When I began reading I thought this was going to be a really great book. It has all the elements I like – a current murder mystery to solve and a cold case from 20 years earlier, well drawn characters and a writing style that contains enough description to visualise the action easily. It’s set in Ireland mainly around an archaeological dig of a site prior to the construction of a motorway. Most of the wood that covered the land had already been cleared, but a small section remains. A little girl’s body is discovered on the site. Is her death connected to the disappearance of two twelve year-olds 20 years earlier? And it just so happens that the detective, Rob Ryan, investigating the current murder was the third child who was involved in the disappearance – except he came back and has no memory of what had happened.
I was immediately drawn into the book, enjoying the mystery and wondering how long Ryan can keep his identity hidden and whether he will remember what happened. However, as the story progresses, the descriptive passages get longer and more complicated as the characters’ back stories are revealed, in particular the dead girl’s family and other peripheral characters. And whilst I still think this is a good book, it isn’t a great one. I like the psychological elements and the twists and turns, although I think some of them were predictable. I’ve seen criticism about the way the book ends, but I didn’t find that disappointing at all, in fact I think that is the only credible way that it could end. And I liked it well enough to look out for French’s second book – The Likeness.